Our Unspoken Fear

Several years ago. 

Knock Knock. I opened the hospital room door to check on my patient.

The bed was empty.

Oh no…

Her eyes closed, my patient was sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall. The IV pole dangled horizontally in the air. Thankfully the IV pump was still plugged in, keeping the pole and pump from crashing on her.

“Ma’am… are you okay?” I rushed to her side, ready to call a code if needed.

Her eyes opened halfway. “Huh?” she mumbled.

“Are you okay? You’re on the floor, let’s get you back to bed.”

She grabbed my hand as she rose, then returned to bed.  “Is it…time for my pain medicine?”

“Let’s get you settled first,” I replied.  I did not doubt her pain; she had a medical condition where the pain was very severe, but she was just too drowsy.

Ten minutes later, she hit the call light.

“I’m in pain!!!” she complained, eyes blazing.  She was definitely awake now.

“It’s not safe for more pain meds right now,” I said, while standing at the door.

Her mouth twitched to the side like she was gearing up for a fight.

“Just because you’re my nurse don’t mean I ain’t goin’ to hit you. Betta watch yo’self! I’m about to pull your ponytail!” she threatened.

Then she walked towards me and slammed the door in my face.

~ ~ ~

Three weeks ago, in the clinic.

“I’m not a drug addict!” he yelled.

His partner entered the room.

“She won’t give me my pain meds!” Exasperated, he threw his hands up in the air.

“I didn’t say you were a …” my coworker started.

“Forget this!” he stormed out and into the waiting room.

A few minutes later…

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!

I jumped, like a deer in headlights.

He pounded the door with his fist. The glass window rattled. He was locked outside in the waiting room.

I was standing nowhere near a panic button…

“Can I help you?” I shouted through the door, reluctant to open it.

“Can you call her out here for me? I’m not waiting any longer!” he shouted back.

I rushed towards the exam room. “He said he’s not waiting any longer.”

His partner apologized on his behalf, then left.  I watched the front doors close behind them.

“Phew. That was a close one,” my coworker sighed.

“Be careful walking to your car,” I warned.

“You too.”

~ ~ ~

Two weeks ago.

“Did you hear? A doctor just got shot a few hours ago. That hospital is still on lockdown,” my coworker reported.

“Yeah…scary,” I replied.

“Remember, last week? Thank God they finally installed the key card on our door. (A door where you have to swipe your ID badge for it to open.)

Otherwise…

it could’ve been us.”

~ ~ ~

The next day. 

“The surgeon. Did you hear? ” my husband asked.

“Hm?” I answered, preoccupied with my dinner.

“He died.”

Placing my spoon onto my plate, I swallowed a huge lump in my throat.  As health professionals, we were deeply affected by the news.

I was hoping he was going to make it…

Gunned down at work, by the family member of a former patient.

Is that it?

He dedicated his whole life to serving his patients, and then…

gone.

Who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time
And who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose, only time

-Enya, Only Time

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11 thoughts on “Our Unspoken Fear

  1. I forget about the scary moments when I think about doctors, nurses and patients. Scary moments like when the patients are out of control. I wanted to clarify something though. In your first story, did the woman walk you out the door and then slam it? Because I got the impression you were by her side trying to help her. Just wanted to make sure I read it right.

  2. You did a nice job of showing the escalating intensity of these events over time. It’s heartbreaking how much fear has crept into our lives…

    • I’m going to piggyback on Michelle’s comment. I, too. liked the way you structured this. Your personal experiences in the first two anecdotes make clear your response to the shooting of the surgeon.

  3. Thanks for sharing this! It’s so interesting since I never thought of being in the medical field as “dangerous” but I guess y’all do encounter a lot of random people … makes me look at health professionals differently and care for them more …

  4. this sounds scary. nobody really is safe anymore these days. not even when your profession is helping people. i do hope you shall remain safe and careful.

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